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It is too soon to write off Narendra Modi’s reforms

来源:FT中文网    2017-08-03 08:02

        The press has not been kind to the economic reforms of Narendra Modi, the Indian prime minister. The Economist ran a cover story recently lamenting a missed opportunity, while the Financial Times has reported on the flaws in his big policy pushes, such as demonetisation and the new national sales tax.        媒体对于印度总理纳伦德拉•莫迪(Narendra Modi)的经济改革不太留情面。《经济学人》(The Economist)最近发表一篇封面文章,对他错失良机表示惋惜,而英国《金融时报》(Financial Times)报道了他推行的重大政策(比如废钞令和新的全国消费税)的缺陷。
        Yet, we may be writing off Mr Modi too soon. His policies are struggling to achieve their intended aims. But they nonetheless hold the key to unlocking a crucial driver for change. A mostly unintended consequence of his two landmark policies may yet prove to be their saving grace.        不过,我们或许太早看衰莫迪了。他的政策似乎难以实现原定目标。但它们仍是释放改革重要驱动力的关键。他的两项里程碑式政策的一个基本上未曾预料到的后果,仍可能被证明是这些政策的唯一可取之处。
        Living in India, you will invariably be struck by a puzzle: the same Indians who demand quality and efficiency from private companies seem almost resigned to lethargic incompetence from government. Why? Taxes hold the key. We are wired to care more about things we pay than things we get for free. Behavioural economists call this tendency the endowment effect: paying for something represents a loss of personal funds, so we care more about such items than identical things we can get for free.        在印度生活,你难免会被一个谜题困扰:那些要求私营企业拿出品质和效率的印度人,却似乎屈从于政府部门死气沉沉的不胜任。为什么呢?税收是关键。相比我们免费得到的东西,我们本能地更关心自己花钱得到的东西。行为经济学家把这种倾向称为禀赋效应(endowment effect):花钱买下某件东西,代表着我们花掉了个人资金,因此我们更关心这些物件,而不是我们可以免费得到的同类物件。
        Most Indians have not been paying for their government. Last year’s income tax data shows only about 2 per cent of Indians pay income taxes. In fact, direct taxes made up less than 6 per cent of gross domestic product in 2015/16. One explanation for why Indians are demanding so little from their government is that they do not pay for it.        大多数印度人没有为政府花钱。去年的所得税数据显示,仅有约2%的印度人缴纳了所得税。事实上,2015/16财年,直接税占印度国内生产总值(GDP)的比重不到6%。对于印度人对其政府要求如此微小的一个解释是,他们不为政府的职能买单。
        If this is true, demonetisation and the new sales tax mark a watershed. The cash ban led to millions of panicked Indians waiting in line for hours to put their money into bank accounts before it became worthless. More than 20m new bank accounts were opened in the five months after the move.        如果这种说法是正确的,那么废钞令和新的消费税标志着一个分水岭。废钞令使得数以百万计的惊慌失措的印度人在钞票变成废纸前排队数小时把钱存入银行账户。在颁布废钞令之后的5个月里,新开立的银行账户超过2000万个。
        Demonetisation also forced Indians to adopt digital payment technologies. Fintech start-ups, such as PayTM, formalised large parts of the nation’s informal sector by making digital payments accessible to everyone — from multiplex operators to roadside vendors. All of this represents an unprecedented expansion of the Indian tax base. The government claims 9.1m new taxpayers were added as a result of demonetisation.        废钞令还迫使印度人采用数字支付技术。PayTM等金融科技初创企业通过让每个人都可以使用数字支付——从多厅影院经营商到路边摊贩——让该国不正规行业的很大部分走上正规道路。这一切代表着印度征税基础出现空前扩张。政府声称,废钞令带来了910万新的纳税人。
        While the new national sales tax also failed to live up to its potential — it still has six arbitrary rates and onerous reporting rules — it, too, may expand the tax base. Many companies are registering for the first time, and start-ups and small businesses have been given special incentives to register. Once again, many companies will move from the untaxed informal economy into the government’s tax net.        尽管新的全国销售税也未能充分发挥潜力(它仍有6个任意税率和繁琐的报税制度),但它也有望扩大税基。很多企业正在首次登记,政府还推出了特殊激励计划来鼓励初创企业和小企业登记。同样,很多企业将从不纳税的非正规经济进入政府的税网。
        As more Indians feel the pinch of direct taxes, they may also start demanding better services from their government. Many Indians have been willing to put up with an inefficient and unaccountable government because they did not feel the sense of entitlement that comes with paying for it. That is about to change.        随着更多印度人感受到直接税的负担,他们可能也会开始要求政府提供更好的服务。很多印度人愿意忍受效率低下、且不受问责的政府服务,是因为他们没有权利意识;这种意识伴随买单而来。这一点即将改变。
        So, the cash ban and new sales tax may yield an unexpected democratic dividend. They may serve as a wake-up call for millions of Indians to want better services from their government. If these policies do unleash greater demands for accountability, Indian democracy will be better for it.        因此,废钞令和新销售税可能带来意想不到的民主红利。它们可能唤醒数以百万计的印度人的主人翁精神,推动他们要求政府提供更好的服务。如果这些政策真的释放出更大的问责要求,那对于印度的民主体制将是一件好事。
        abhishek.parajuli@ft.com        译者/马柯斯

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